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CareerBuilder and USAToday have teamed up to release a new job forecast, reporting that nearly three-in-ten employers (28 percent) hired full-time, permanent employees in the first quarter of 2011, the highest since the first quarter of 2008.

The same amount of employers project they will be hiring in the second quarter, fueling further job growth momentum. Twenty-eight percent of employers plan to increase their full-time workforce in the second quarter.

Employers are focusing on ramping up their efforts to attract top talent. More job postings means more competition for these sought-after candidates.

One-third (33 percent) of employers are concerned that top performers will look for employment opportunities elsewhere as the economy improves. Fourteen percent reported that top talent already left their organization in the first quarter of this year.

The survey reports that temporary hiring remains a popular choice among employers. Twenty-nine percent of employers reported they hired contract or temporary workers in the first quarter. Twenty-six percent plan to do so in the second quarter. Seventeen percent said they are planning to transition some contract or temporary staff into permanent employees in the second quarter.

With regards to region, hiring is expected increase in the West in the second quarter. One-third (33 percent) of hiring managers in the West expect to increase full-time, permanent headcount compared to 28 percent in the Northeast, 27 percent in the Midwest and 24 percent in the South.

Although employers in the South are less likely to add full-time, permanent employees than other regions in the second quarter, they are also less likely to downsize. Four percent of employers in the South expect to decrease staff levels compared to 6 percent in the Northeast, West and Midwest.

“While employers are keeping a close eye on world events, their confidence levels in regard to recruitment have remained intact,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder. “Job listings on CareerBuilder are up across all categories, from healthcare and technology to manufacturing. Our latest survey points to continued, measured gains over the next three months. As the nation moves toward greater financial stability, more employers are investing in talent for the long-term.”

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